Where Have All The Shepherds Gone? They're Retired!
Bishop Joseph Sullivan a retired auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn, New York wrote an op ed yesterday for the Buffalo News. In that opinion piece the retired bishop strikes a tone that is so much more pastoral than the bellicose hectoring of New York’s archbishop.
Here are two paragraphs from Bishop Sullivan’s piece in the Buffalo News.
“What you would probably be surprised to learn is that Catholics are among those who increasingly are reaching out pastorally to the LGBT community. A recent study released by the Public Religion Research Institute found that a majority of Catholics believe that job discrimination against gay and lesbian people should be outlawed. By almost 2 to 1, Catholics believe that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt children.”
“More than a decade ago, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a graceful message, “Always Our Children,” which reminded us, “For St. Paul love is the greatest of spiritual gifts. St. John considers love to be the most certain sign of God’s presence.” For most Catholics, there can be no statement that better summarizes an attitude of welcoming of our LGBT brothers and sisters than those of Jesus, “love one another as I have loved you.”
The article in America includes these words from Bishop Sullivan.
"Catholics and other religious people who support LGBT rights do so because of their experience of engagement with members of the LGBT community. They are not rebels in their churches, but people who have taken spiritual messages of inclusiveness and welcoming to heart. They are taking the church’s teaching on social justice and applying it to pastoral practice in engaging the LGBT community."
"We see these teachings play out as Catholics across the country engage in prayerful and meaningful dialogues about understanding and embracing the LGBT community. This dialogue is happening amongst faithful families, in student groups on the campuses of Catholic universities, and within church congregations. This dialogue is admittedly difficult, at times, but important."
Back on May 13th. the archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolin, went on a rant condemning the movement toward the recognition of gay marriage in his blog titled "Marriage: The Core of Every Civilization". In his blog the archbishop always uses the word “homosexual” which is offensive and distancing even as he talks of welcome.
When a reporter asked me[Dolin]for a comment, I replied, “They’re right: we do love and respect homosexual people."
There are a few comments that repeat the standard theme of church teaching. Many other comments talk about how marriage has been defined differently over the centuries as well as the fact that marriage was a civil institution before the church got involved.
One commentator even challengs the archbishop to meet with him. He suggests that the archbishop is a coward. I agree.
Over the years the bishops have never tried to engage in a meaningful discussion with the GLBT community. So the bishops, the so called shepherds, remain in their ignorance and can rightfully be called bigots, which seems to offend the archbishop.
That is why I want to call attention to words of Bishop Sullivan. He speaks like a shepherd. He speaks in a way that invites a response and dialogue.